Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More



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August 11, 2009

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  • July 26, 2010, 10:57pm

"The Anglish Moot," a website devoted to Anglish, defines it as "a kind of English, but without those words which have been borrowed from other languages." The site describes the purpose of Anglish:

"The purpose of Anglish differs from person to person, but mostly it is to explore and experiment with the English language . . . By stripping away the layers of borrowed words, Anglish allows us to better appreciate that core and the role it plays in our language."

This sounds like an interesting academic exercise. The problem is that English has always had "borrowed words" in its lexicon. Nearly two hundred Latin borrowings—that we know of—were brought to England from the Continent by the Anglo-Saxons. Another 350 or so Latin words were added to Old English prior to the Norman Invasion. Other words found their way into Old English from Old Norse. Shall we discard these?

"The Anglish Moot," gives this reason for the existence of Anglish:

"English words taken from Latin, French, and Greek are made up of parts whose meanings are on the whole unknown or at least unclear to the English speaker."

Indeed. Do they include words like butter, cup, kitchen, mile, pepper, plant, pound and street, all of which are Latin-based, and all of which were brought by the Anglo-Saxons when they crossed the Channel? Quoth the Moot: "So extreme is this beclouding of so much of the English wordstock, that we get severely hard-to-make-out-the-meaning-of words like “inebriate”, completely incomprehensible to the English speaker from its wordbits, since it contains the wodbit ‘ebri’, from the latin ‘ebrius’, meaning drunk." (I have kept the spelling and punctuation intact.) Unless one is inebriated, and very much so, the meaning of "butter" is hardly incomprehensible. And is "hard-to-make-out-the-meaning-of" better than "incomprehensible?"

The more I look at Anglish the less I like it. It is not scholarly, and has an odor of xenophobia about it.

Might could

  • July 25, 2010, 10:48pm

I think Avrom had a handle on this issue. "Might could" is an example of modal stacking. (A modal is an adverb used to express the one's view of the truth of a statement.)

Still, "might could" equivocates, it delays. It arises out of social decorum, not grammar. Asked a favor—or an invitation, or other odious obligation—"might could" buys time. The literal meaning of "I might could" is both "maybe I could" and "maybe I will." But the inference is "likely I won't." From my experience living in the South the phrase generally means "no." But gently so.

Really happy or real happy

  • July 21, 2010, 2:46pm

The objection to the adverb "real" is that it is informal, and better suited to speech than to writing. Some have gone so far as to object to "real" as an adverb entirely. This is one of those nineteenth-century grammatical shibboleths that is largely ignored in practice, and rightly. True, the adverbial "real" is perceived—by some—as less formal than "really," but it is not incorrect. It has a long history of usage, both spoken and written, and is perfectly standard English.

"Real," as an adverb, is a simple amplifier, similar to "very." The adverb "really" is more nuanced; it might mean "very" (he is really angry) or it might mean "actually" (he is really angry). In general, however, "really" is more often used to mean "actually" than "very." Whether "real" is the appropriate adverb depends on the intended meaning.

Plural of Yes

  • July 21, 2010, 1:32pm

The correct plural is yeses. Nouns ending in -s (focus or excess, for example) generally are made plural simply by adding -es.

Pronunciation: aunt

  • July 19, 2010, 1:43am

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition (1947 printing) lists both \?änt\ and \?ant\ as standard pronunciations. (I have updated the phonetic symbols to reflect their current standards.) Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1991 printing) also lists both pronunciations.

And Webster's Ninth says this in its explanatory notes:

"The presence of variant pronunciations indicates that not all educated speakers pronounce words in the same way. A second-place variant is not to be regarded as less acceptable than the pronunciation that is given first. It may, in fact, be used by as many educated speakers as the first variant, but the requirements of the printed page are such that one much precede the other."

Can we please move on? Lots of English words have more than one pronunciation, and all English-speaking people have accents. My southern friends—some of them—say "earl" for "oil" and "Paypsee" for "Pepsi." We may kid each other about it, but we don't call each other names.

As for "forte," Merriam-Webster Online has this comment on its pronunciation:

"In 'forte' we have a word derived from French that in its “strong point” sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \?f?r-?t?\ and \?f?r-t?\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived 'forte.' Their recommended pronunciation \?f?rt\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word 'le fort' and would rhyme it with English 'for.' So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \?f?-?t?\ and \?f?t\ predominate; \?f?r-?t?\ and \f?r-?t?\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English."

No mention at all of "Dynasty."

“I’m just saying”

  • July 17, 2010, 8:35am

Same to you, Jan.

“I’m just saying”

  • July 16, 2010, 9:12am

As one who is "not here to argue," Jan, you argue quite a lot. Your "viable definition" to “just saying” is simply a crib from a mob-based website, where "best and most correct" is defined by random opinion, not knowledge. Trust me, Porsche has read and understood your original post:

"I needed to know what some people were talking about when they used this phrase (as each had a different definition of what the phrase means to them), so I looked it up in the urban dictionary.

Urban Dictionary: just saying?Just saying: a phrase used to indicate that we refuse to defend a claim we’ve made—in other words, that we refuse to offer reasons that what we’ve said is true."

Here are some current definitions for "just saying," taken from today's Urban Dictionary:

"A phrase that is used when someone is offended by something you said. This phrase then removes all the offensiveness of the previous statement, making it all good."

"Response when your motive for saying something is questioned and you a) had no motive or b) do not want to reveal your motive."

"Response when one has been proven wrong but is not humble enough to admit being incorrect or cannot settle with the other person's statement."

Rather a wide field of opinion. Hardly definitive.

This here site tends to be argumentative. People hereabouts "offer reasons that what we’ve said is true." Have you an opinion of your own?—I'm just saying.

“I’m just saying”

  • July 14, 2010, 8:18pm

The Urban Dictionary website says:

"All the definitions on Urban Dictionary were written by people just like you."

Which is to say: not by "definition experts."

“she” vs “her”

  • July 9, 2010, 5:54am

Purely a stylistic choice, Nigel, and a subjective one.

But you raise a valid point: some consider it rude to refer to someone in the third person in their presence, as if they weren't there. However, that is a matter of etiquette, not of grammar.

“she” vs “her”

  • July 4, 2010, 11:22am

Nigel writes:

“In most contexts, “she and I” is awkward (which is not to say “wrong”).”

How is the phrase “she and I” awkward? As a subject it is both grammatical and commonplace. The placement of the third person pronoun first is customary; this has as much to do with clarity as with etiquette. The identity of the third person must be established prior to the use of the pronoun to be understood: “This is my friend Jane. She and I traveled to Kansas together.” Placing 'she' before 'I' in the second sentence keeps the relationship between 'Jane' and 'she' close and clear. It is only incidentally polite.